Saturday, May 24, 2008

Justice Scalia on Persuading Judges

The American Bar Association Magazine excerpted parts of Justice Scalia's book on legal writing and argument in Making Your Case. I disagree with most of Scalia's jurisprudence but his advice about writing is spot on:

Value clarity above all other elements of style In brief-writing, one feature of a good style trumps all others. Literary elegance, erudition, sophistication of expression—these and all other qualities must be sac­rificed if they detract from clarity. This means, for example, that the same word should be used to refer to a particular key concept, even if elegance of style would avoid such repetition in favor of various synonyms. It means that you must abandon interesting and erudite asides if they sidetrack the drive toward the point you are making. It means that you should never use a word that the judge may have to look up